Friday, January 04, 2013

new lang syne

The MPs expenses scandal is still with us. George Osborne is a Chelsea fan (who else?). He just happens to have a meeting arranged with German official that lets him be in Munich to see Chelsea win the Champions League and witness John Terry's thuggish racist little hands hoist the trophy. That way Osborne had the trip paid for by the taxpayer instead of out of his inherited millions.

He also flogged his second home that we paid for and made a personal profit of £450,000. Items on expenses must be 'wholly, necessarily and exclusively' used in the job. Why is it 'necessary' to have a house worth a million pounds? With a fucking paddock for horses?

If the Tories really want to end the 'something for nothing culture' then let's have a 100% Inheritance Tax and administer it retroactively so it removes the fortunes that Osborne, Cameron, and Iain Duncan Smith are living off.

They aggressively portray benefit claimants as scroungers who get that 'something for nothing' at the expense of 'hard working families'. Iain Duncan Smith said that benefits have risen faster than private sector wages. Well yes, they have as long as you do some nimble footwork and only start measuring wages from where they slump in the credit crunch and recession.

But more to the point, it's not about competing with private sector wages. It's about ensuring that nobody goes hungry, cold or homeless. With food prices rising faster than either benefits or wages, and fuel costs rising faster still, the level of benefits has effectively plummeted. Families are choosing between food and warmth. People are, entirely predictably, being made homeless.

The millionaire government and the millionaire-owned media have flooded us with stories of the feckless poor. And it has worked. A YouGov poll found this week that on average people think that 41 per cent of the entire welfare budget goes on benefits to unemployed people, while the true figure is 3 per cent. They also found that, on average, people think that 27 per cent of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently, while the government's own figure is 0.7 per cent.

Of the people polled, those with the least accurate picture of what the benefit regime is actually like were the ones with the most anti-claimant view.

The fact is that the jobless outnumber vacancies by more than 5:1. There are over two million people for whom there is no job. The demonisation of the jobless is a problem in itself. But having successfully done that, the government then turns on the same 'hard working families' with swingeing cuts to Housing Benefit (where 93% of new claimants are in work) and Tax Credits (100% in work). That time Iain Duncan Smith didn't even cherry pick his figures, he simply made them up.

The pared down Housing Benefit comes into effect in April on the same day that there's a tax cut for those earning over £150,000 a year. We can't afford housing for the poor and disabled they say, whilst ruling out a Mansion Tax. The Daily Mail hailed that as helping 'hard-pressed middle-class families'. Owning a property worth over £2,000,000? What the fuck is that the 'middle' of? The Tory front bench?


In Scotland, they consistently vote against the Tories. As the UK suffers an accelerating runaway Tory train of devastation, forcing people into poverty and on to the streets, in Scotland they've extended the rights of homeless people to be housed.

Whilst the Tories strip the NHS, in Scotland - like Wales and Northern Ireland - they extend it with free prescriptions for all.

As the Tories hand out UK public services to corrupt profiteers and slash workers rights, in Scotland there's a law on the table to ban construction firms from getting public contracts if they've been involved in blacklisting workers (a widespread illegal practice to keep unions out).

As the increasing spectre of student debt forces young people from poorer families to opt out of university, in Scotland they have reinstated free higher education. Labour have criticised the move as 'regressive'. Mind you, Labour's response to attacks on the unemployed is to propose their own punitive regime. That's unsurprising given that the comprehensively derided workfare scheme was actually designed by the last Labour government.

Whilst the Tories resurrect zombie road schemes triggering a new rash of 90s-style road protests, and start a new generation of fossil burning that will shatter our carbon reduction targets, the Scots generate 35% of their electricity renewably, well ahead of their target to get them to the equivalent of 100% renewable by 2020.

Come independence, I think I'll be seeking political asylum there.


merrick said...

Also, whisky.

Me said...

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has comprehensively debunked the Tory myth of ‘intergenerational cultures of worklessness’ and that there may be families where ‘three generations have never worked’ as quoted ad nauseum by Grayling and Duncan Smith.

But the political elites of all hues are not content to just demonise the poor, they tell lies and spread hatred of the sick and disabled, doing untold harm to the most vulnerable.

The "medical" tests for ESA/Incapacity Benefit and DLA/PIP by ATOS are rarely done by doctors medically trained in the area of ill health the claimant presents, oh no: the majority are physiotherapists, nurses or occupational therapists with little relevent training,
simply following a tick box system unfit for the complexities presented by daily life living with illness or disability.

From Benefits and Work website

"Figures in the bid documents reveal that Atos will use 433 physiotherapists, 173 nurses, 35 occupational therapists and 9 doctors in London and Southern England. Just 19% of the service will be provided by NHS staff, whilst private sector company Premex will provide 30%
and The Injury Care Clinics will provide 15%.

In Scotland and Northern England, Atos plan to use 500 physiotherapists, 200 nurses, 40 occupational therapists and 10 doctors. The NHS will provide 36% of the service.

Atos say that this mix of health professionals was based on a number of considerations, including the “cost differentials between the types of HPs [health professionals]” and “the desire for this work” amongst different types of health professionals.
There is no mention of how many, if any, of the nurses will be specialist mental health nurses."

Gyrus said...

Scotland does look very attractive. And yes, whisky.